Laura Giles

Laura Giles

I work with academics to translate their ideas and knowledge into innovative online learning content. Over the past 6 years, I've helped to develop 17 FutureLearn courses that have run over 180 times!

Location University of Sheffield


  • Hi everyone, many thanks for bringing this to our attention. It is interesting how much cultural norms around language can change over a relatively short amount of time. When we first developed the course in 2016, this line would not have stood out to me as offensive but reading it back now I am acutely aware that there are much better terms we could have...

  • This blog has some good ideas about how to increase student participation during a webinar:

  • It is indeed @JohnLynskey, it's Tonearm Vinyl formerly in Walkley in Sheffield but now moved to Kelham Island.

  • You could create a shared online space where you can share resources and ideas and ask eachother for help - a virtual teacher's office!

  • Hi Maliha, whenever you find a resource you can't access please do comment and say which resource it is so the course team can fix it - with so many resources being shared there's bound to be one or two links that get broken!

  • Great advice Jane

  • I think synchronous can be quite effective, particularly in a group context. One of my colleagues does this in a distance learning course. She reviews each student’s assignment in a webinar, annotating and highlighting the document as she goes along. Students are also invited to offer their feedback. In this way individual feedback for one student benefits...

  • Hi @StephenBeddows is there anything that you have learned from interacting on this course that you might try?

  • You could also set up an FAQ page on whatever platform you are using (or share on a google document). Whenever you get asked a question that you think other students would benefit from knowing - add it to the FAQ. This way, you won't spend your precious time answering similar queries!

  • You could use a rubric. Rubrics are scoring guidelines that provide consistency for assessing work. This webpage has some sample rubrics for various subjects and grade levels:

  • You could try giving your learners a choice of activities to engage with. This way they can work on the same concepts and ideas, but at different levels of proficiency. Also links to additional readings or materials can help those learners that want to take their interest further.

  • The editing features built into Google docs are really useful for giving feedback and the Google support pages are a good place to head to if you get stuck. This page explains how to add comments to google documents: and this page explains how to add comments to Google forms:...

  • Setting clear guidelines for participation can help - if your students know exactly what is expected of them they will be more likely to participate. This might be a percentage of their grade/mark attributed to participation in online activities. Be sure to praise those students that are active.

  • If you are having technical difficulties - just be honest about it, I think students appreciate a down to earth approach. What age group are you teaching Yesha?

  • Hi Maria, I think effective online learning makes sure to include moments of interaction. Discussion tools (like whatsapp, facebook or a discussion board) can help you to keep in touch with your students and well designed discussion prompts allow you to monitor their progress and engagement. Do you have any social/discussion tools available to you?

  • Hi Karen, do you mean a live class like a webinar?

  • How are your students accessing these slides? Often your VLE can give you statistics about who is accessing the resources. But another way you can ensure a student has understood a topic is to set a quiz afterwards. If you tell your students on the first slide that there will be a quiz to check their understanding - it may encourage them to pay attention!

  • Hi Cristina, there are some great apps out there for language learning. HelloTalk ( is like whatsapp but for language learners - you put in the language you're learning and you can search and start chats with people. Memrise ( is a platform that uses spaced repetition of flashcards to increase the rate of...

  • Hi Andreas. It can be tempting to turn your existing lecture into a live online class to try to imitate the experience of a classroom. However, as you pointed out, it is much harder to keep your students engaged for this length of time.

    One of the positives of teaching online is we can think differently about how we 'chunk' up our teaching - we no longer...

  • Hi Norma, thanks for your comment. I agree that the ‘Global South/Global North' division is not helpful. We are refering to societies that are technologically advanced and those that are underdeveloped - so I have edited the text accordingly. I am sorry that it caused you offence.

  • Hi Sandra, thanks for your comment. I would agree with you that ‘Global South’ is inaccurate and misleading. What we are talking about here is societies that are technologically advanced and those that are underdeveloped. I am sorry that it caused you offence and I have edited the text to remove these terms.

  • Hi Grace, If you add the course to your wishlist you can be notified when new dates are announced. Just go to the course description page: and you'll find the 'Add to wishlist' under 'Start Dates' - Merry Christmas!

  • Hi @SherryNRN(non-practicing) and @NanaAdjoaKonaduAttiah, have you purchased an upgrade or an unlimited membership? If you have and you still can't see the certificate make sure you have you marked over 90% of course steps as complete. You can see how many steps you have marked as complete by clicking on the 'Progress' tab.

  • Hi Nana, sorry to hear you cannot access your certificate. If you click on the 'support' button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen you can let FutureLearn know about your issue and they should be able to help :)

  • Hi Leslie, the only difference is that the video ends with the musicians playing the song in full. We should perhaps add [SONG PLAYED IN FULL] which might make that a bit more obvious. Sorry for any confusion.

  • Hi Ambrose, the course is not facilitated. Unfortunately, Adam has moved on from the university, however, we felt it a shame not to continue to offer the course. Hopefully, you can seek guidance and support from your peers in these discussions.

  • Hi @EvaKruell The video is working at our end. Could you check the link again? If it still isn't working we can troubleshoot with you what the problem might be. Sorry for the inconvenience. :)

  • Oh yes @MaryMac - my misinformation comment was not directed at Mark but rather at myself and the course team for not removing that final line at the end of the video. I'm glad you find the hangout recordings useful. You'll find links to all previous hangouts at the end of weeks 3 and 5. :)

  • Hi @MarkJackson I thought Adam telling you to expect a live google hangout next week might count as misinformation!

  • Hey everybody, I'm sorry to report that there are no live events planned for this run of the course. Sorry for the misinformation. This video was recorded during a previous run of the course. I'll try and get the line removed so as not to further mislead anyone.

  • If you live near Sheffield and would like to experience what it feels like to be detained in a police cell and go through the ‘booking-in’ process, you may like to join Dr Layla Skinns and representatives from the South Yorkshire Police on an immersive tour of a simulated police custody facility. The tour is free and will take place in Rotherham on Wednesday 7...

  • Hey Carole, we have refreshed the page and uploaded a new link - I hope it works for you now!

  • @JackieMajor You are quite right - when we edited the image, our graphic designer mixed up some of the numbers. All fixed now!

  • @JonathanCasey Thanks for your feedback Jonathan - we have updated the funnel image to reflect some of the points you raised.

  • Thanks for the feedback @JamesReid. It's quite a challenge trying to source images for a course of this size but I'll certainly try to find one of the Old Bailey or the Crown Courts for next time!

  • Hi John, you can't attach files to comments I'm afraid but you could share a link? What is it you are trying to share?

  • Hi Patric, I'm afraid I have no control over the group size - this functionality is built into the platform. I would suggest that if you're interested in collaboration, try posting a comment in your study group to find out if anyone is interested in working with you. Let me know how it goes!

  • Hi everybody, the study groups can have a maximum of 80 learners so yes I would agree with you @PatricFawcett more of an orchestra than a band! I imagine not all members of a study group would wish to collaborate but I hope that the study group functionality will make it easier for those that do. Feel free to ask me any questions you have about study groups!

  • Hi @JoyDavis and @sharonfreedman.

    Whilst I can totally understand your frustration at not having access to the test I just wanted to explain the rationale behind 'Upgrading'.

    This model has been introduced by FutureLearn as a way to make their business financially stable so that they can continue to provide a platform for these courses. Their research...

  • Hi @BarbaravanSanten . Thanks for bringing this to our attention - we're on it!

  • I recently came across this TED talk and thought it would be relevant to this discussion. In this video, Jared Diamond examines the vast differences in how societies across the globe view and treat their senior citizens.

  • Hi @PhilipPaulden, @HJC and @SandraBartolomeu. I can totally understand your frustration at not having access to the tests. As Clara hinted, Upgrading has been introduced by FutureLearn as a way to make their business financially stable so that they can continue to provide a platform for these courses. Their research showed that a certificate on its own...